Gulfport, MS - February 20, 2011 - A Cajun expression Lagniappe (lan yap), “small extra gift”, describes best what Mother Nature left as a token on her visit to the Gulf Coast Winter Classics. Not only did temps continue to heat up, but so did the rivalry for supremacy in both the Hunter and Jumper divisions.
Beginning in the Hunter Divisions where for the second week several of the top horse-rider combinations turned in stellar performances. Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, AL rode Figaro B for owner Linda Bobrik to the Championship in the 1st Year Green Working and top place in the USHJA Hunter Classic, while Hillsboro, VA based Tom Brennan picked up the tri colors in the 2nd Year Green Working aboard Lynn Rice’s Purple Heart. And taking the Championship title in the High Performance Hunters for week two was Cincinnati, OH resident Sarah Mechlin paired with Olivia Weaver’s agreeable horse Yes Indeed.
Over in the jumper rings the theme was “Les Bon Temps Rouler”, let the good times roll, and in Friday afternoon’s Lucky Sevens Welcome Stake Wilhelm Genn of Lebanon, OH kept on enjoying the good times with his mount Copyright 3 taking the victory.
In a preview of events to come, international course designer Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC spared no punches with the EMO Insurance sponsored stakes class, testing the field of 23 competitors with 12 obstacles [requiring 14 efforts] in the first round and the jump off of 8 efforts required both horse and rider be quick of wit and hoof. “Michel always builds a great test for us.” Genn said.
Official results for the Welcome found Genn taking both first and second place with Copyright 3 and Kalinero du Galete (owned by Courtney Goulart) respectively. Third went to Vick Russell riding Lucky One for owner Lillian Hahn, fourth to owner-rider Devin Ryan and Roman Saluut and rounding out the top five was Holly Shepherd aboard Triompf for owner Sarah Patterson.
On Sunday morning the Junior and Amateur Owners took to the grass field to conquer Vaillancourt’s course in their quest to win the $10,000 EquiFit, Inc sponsored Junior-Amateur Jumper Classic. Last week’s big winner, Ryan Genn, showed what a gentleman and fine horseman his father Wilhelm has raised him to be, when the Classic came down to a jump off between Genn and barnmate Erin Nelson. Ryan elected to call it a tie and split the winnings with his friend. Young Genn rode new mount For Farina, the 9 year-old Hanoverian mare owned by the Genn family, and Nelson partnered with Inside Out the entry owned by Lazy Creek Ranch Holdings, LLC. “I liked my course!” the youngest Genn said with a smirk before turning serious, “The hardest part of the course was the triple combination, it was going downhill into a normal 5 stride to the last two oxers. Other than that I thought it was a really nice course.” Earlier in the morning barnmate Erin Nelson won the Low Junior Amateur Jumper Classic with Gabriella Z, also owned by Lazy Creek Ranch Holdings, LLC making it a clean sweep for “Team Rhineland Farm”.
This weekend’s featured event on Sunday afternoon, the $25,000 EMO Insurance Grand Prix, spotlighted 24 entries competing before an enthusiastic crowd. Among them was grand prix rider Wilhelm Genn’s wife, Patty, who has a birthday coming up. So what’s the perfect “Lagniappe”? Easy, another victory on her fiery chestnut Happy Z. “Happy” early birthday Mrs. Genn!
Vaillancourt built an 82 second limited layout of 13 obstacles [16 big efforts] to test the mettle of both horse and rider. “The triple combination was hard, because it was late in the course-you had two oxers and they were wide and you were going a little uphill so you couldn’t use pace to get over them, because the distance was still a little short. They [the horses] had to jump in normal and then explode inside, so that made it hard.” Genn remarked of what he felt was the toughest spot. Patty Genn’s 12 year-old Dutch bred “little girl” made mom proud with a clean ride in 75.487. A feat only two others would accomplish, Genn’s son Theo aboard the Abby Albritton owned Ariado (79.385) and local favorite Vicky Miller with Cincinnati (78.913) for owners Showcase 81, LLC. “I thought the course was incredible. The hardest part by far for most was the triple combination, but for my horse I thought the hardest part was some of the verticals-several of them were pretty high. The triple for him [Ariado] was pretty easy; he’s got so much scope. He was great!” Theo Genn complimented of his 14 year-old Holsteiner partner.
The abbreviated second round comprised of 7 obstacles [8 efforts] had a time allowance of 52 seconds, but the three in competition are all known speed demons, which provided the audience with a thrilling spectacle. With its sweeping turns and rollbacks the layout wound across the grass field concluding with a flat out gallop to the final fence. First to return was Theo Genn, but despite good time two unfortunate rails falling darkened their chance of victory. “I didn’t know it was going to be that tight of a turn, doing the inside one and he [Ariado] did it incredibly, but we had a little slip so it cost us.” Theo said. Next up was “Papa” Genn and Happy Z, “I saw it [where Theo slipped] when I came around on Happy and said “Oh, better stay away from that spot” Wilhelm teased. Something a clean ride entitled him to. Miller and Cincinnati were the final pair and though valiant in their efforts dropped two rails, thus confirming the elder Genn’s victory and more importantly Mrs. Genn a nice kick off to her birthday celebration.
Official Results for the $25,000 EMO Grand Prix:
- 1st Happy Z with Wilhelm Genn for Mrs. Patty Genn 0 Faults 41.587
- 2nd Ariado with Theo Genn for Abby Albritton 8 Faults 43.450
- 3rd Cincinnati with Vicky Miller for Showcase 81, LLC 8 Faults 47.495
- 4th Triompf with Holly Shepherd for Sarah Patterson 2 Faults 83.028
- 5th No Worries with Devin Ryan for Barbara Rowland 4 Faults 72.879
- 6th Kalinero du Galete with Wilhelm Genn for Courtney Goulart 4 Faults 73.485
- 7th Copyright 3 with owner Wilhelm Genn 4 Faults 75.892
- 8th Boysterous with owner Danielle Grice 4 Faults 76.707
- 9th Merlin with owner Frances Land 4 Faults 80.143
- 10th Nepal with owner Jay Land 4 Faults 80.822
- 11th Lucio 18 with Frank Owens for DS Holdings, LLC 4 Faults 81.853
- 12th Paradox with Theo Genn for Thomas Bruinsma 8 Faults 77.545
After taking his wife out on a Birthday shopping adventure, Wilhelm and sons will be back in the saddle for the third week of competition. “We have a great life, everybody is healthy, we do what we love doing, and the boys are in it. That’s a real gift.” Genn concluded.
The Gulfport Winter Classics continues with more hunter/jumper action through March 13th. Admission is free and the public is invited to enjoy the exciting competition throughout the week along with another $25,000 Grand Prix each Sunday afternoon.
Photo: Wilhelm Genn & Happy Z, Holly Shepherd & Figaro B ©Flashpoint Photography